Information about the Archives

Description: The Hanford Health Information Archives is a voluntary repository of information about the personal health and experiences of individuals who were or may have been exposed to radiation released from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation from 1944 to 1972. This information had been voluntarily contributed to the Archives by individuals who lived or spent time in the Hanford exposure area during those years. These individuals are sometimes referred to as "Hanford downwinders." The exposure area extends across Eastern Washington, northeastern Oregon and much of Idaho, into Montana and Canada, and through the Columbia River downstream from Hanford to Pacific coastal areas. The largest releases of radioactive materials from Hanford occurred from 1944 to 1972.

Purpose: The Archives' core purpose is to preserve and make available information about the health and personal experiences of those who were or may have been exposed to Hanford's releases. The Archives collected a wide range of personal records and health information from Hanford downwinders. This was the first time anyone had initiated this kind of repository of information about the experiences of downwinders and made that information available to the public. In this way, the Archives ensures that this information can be shared now and with future generations.

Note: The Archives is NOT a study and does not attempt to draw cause-and-effect conclusions about exposure and health effects experienced by downwinders. Such conclusions are not possible since Archives donors are not a statistically representative sample of all exposed persons. The archives CAN NOT provide medical analysis or advice to patrons. However, the Archives does provide a better understanding of the health status and experiences of those who contribute.

Background: The Archives was conceived and requested by the people whose experiences it preserves-- Hanford downwinders who wanted an opportunity to contribute information that may add to the knowledge about the health effects of exposure to radiation. Launched byHanford Health Information Network (HHIN), the Archives was included in the Network's original plan which was submitted to the U.S. Congress by the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho in 1991. One of the activities in the plan called for a means for individuals to be recognized as "potentially affected and to deposit information in a confidential archive." In this way "vital information will not be lost and persons who may have been exposed to radiation will have an opportunity to contribute information that may add to the knowledge about the health effects of exposure to radiation." After federal funding was eliminated in 2000, the Archives transferred to Gonzaga University and is now serviced through the Special Collections Department. As of June 2001, the Archives no longer accept new additions to this collection.

Contents: Information voluntarily contributed by Hanford downwinders that describes their health and experiences. The Archives' collections include medical records, military records, letters, photographs, diaries/journals, home movies, newspaper clippings, school yearbooks, scrapbooks, drawings, and written, tape recorded or videotaped recollections and oral histories. Donated materials tend to be original or one-of-a-kind.
In addition to preserving responses to a questionnaire about health problems and family health history, the Archives makes available other scanned images that are part of a donor's collection. These scanned images include: oral history transcripts, the Personal Health Information Questionnaires (PHIQ), Individual Dose Assessments (thyroid radiation dose estimates based upon a person's age, gender, and other factors), and personal histories. The catalog records have hyperlinks to these scanned images at the end of the detailed record. See
How to locate materials in the Archives to view these scanned images.

Users: The Archives is open to anyone wishing to use it. Users may include downwinders, concerned citizens, tribal members, public health professionals, primary care providers, epidemiologists and health-related researchers, social scientists, journalists and students.

Location: The Archives is located in Special Collections on the third floor of the Foley Center Library at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. The public may access the Archives holdings through the Internet or by visiting the Foley Center Library.

Hours: Monday-Friday -- 8:30-Noon and 1pm-4:30pm. Appointments outside of these regular hours may be arranged with the archivist.

Opening: Wednesday, July 24, 1996.

Special Collections
Foley Center Library
Gonzaga University
East 502 Boone Avenue
Spokane WA 99258-0095
tel: (509) 313-3847
fax: (509) 323-5904